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Editorial Note:  

In the past year the BDS movement has made significant inroads on Western campuses.  IAM reported on BDS initiatives that have reached as far as Australia.  The BDS model is based on a view of a university as a political weapon to be wielded against real and imaginary causes.  While universities should not be isolated ivory towers, their primary func'tion is to nurture academic excellence. 

It it precisely this type of excellence, notably in the sciences, that has made Israeli universities a highly desirable venue for bilateral contacts, as the following article indicates.

Recognizing Israel's academic excellence is not limited to the United States.  Following one of the repeated votes of the British faculty association - The University and College Union (UCU) to boycott Israel, David Willets, Minister for Universities and Science, stated that a small number of “hotheads” would not stand in the way of British-Israeli scientific cooperation. Willets, who led a scientific and business delegation on what was described as a “fantastic” trip to Israel, noted that the level of academic collaboration between the two countries was an indication that the boycott initiative has failed.  

These developments carry a lesson for Israeli radical faculty.  Academics can be politically engaged, but they cannot turn their tenured positions into a full-time activism.  Taxpayers and their elected representatives are entitled to a return on their investment in nurturing excellence.  


IMRAIndependent Media Review and Analysis

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Top U.S. University Presidents Explore Innovation and Bilateral Academic Opportunities in Israel

Presidents, Chancellors of U.C. Berkeley, Texas State University System, Barnard, Scripps, Rockefeller, others on 7th Project Interchange Seminar for University Leaders

(Jerusalem, Israel, June 30, 2013) - A delegation of presidents and chancellors from top U.S. universities will visit Israel June 30- July 6 to investigate opportunities for bilateral academic partnerships and collaboration through an educational seminar conducted by Project Interchange, an institute of AJC (American Jewish Committee). The delegation will visit Israeli universities, including Tel Aviv University, the Technion, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, for a series of meetings in areas relevant to their universities such as brain science, environmental sustainability, biotech, diversity and women’s leadership. The delegation will learn about state-of-the art research initiatives and ground-breaking innovation at Israeli universities, as well as unique academia-to-industry technology transfer that has contributed to Israel's reputation as the “Start Up Nation”.

The seminar was designed by Project Interchange in consultation with the participating university presidents and chancellors, and will offer broad exposure to the complex issues facing Israel and the region, with the delegation scheduled to meet with senior government, academic and civil society leaders across the Israeli social and political spectrum, and traveling to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian leaders.

“We are tremendously pleased to host this impressive delegation of American university leaders for their first of hopefully many trips to Israel. The world-class research and educational facilities at Israeli universities and colleges, a number of which will be visited during the program, provide a fitting setting for great minds to share information, discuss research partnerships, and explore opportunities for mutually-beneficial cooperation," said Project Interchange Executive Director Sam Witkin.

“Israel’s world-class research and educational innovation attests to its role as a global player.”

The program marks Project Interchange’s 7th annual flagship seminar for university presidents. Previous Project Interchange seminars for university presidents have resulted in numerous instances of collaboration between participant universities and their Israeli counterparts. The joint Cornell-Technion technology/science campus, in part a result of a PI seminar chaired by Cornell President David Skorton in 2010, broke ground on New York’s Roosevelt Island in 2012 and launched its first beta class. Following his seminar in 2012, Louis Agnese, President, University of the Incarnate Word returned to Israel in February 2013, to consult and collaborate with the Sackler School of Medicine in order to create a medical school at UIW. In March 2013, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, who co-chaired a PI seminar in 2008, signed a three-year, $1 million partnership with Ben Gurion University to develop renewable energy technology projects.

University of California-Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake (2008) has signed nine bilateral academic exchange agreements with Israeli universities and recently hosted an Israeli innovation conference.

The Project Interchange University Presidents and Chancellors delegation includes:

· Seminar Chair: Chancellor Brian McCall, Texas State University System

· President Debora L. Spar, Barnard College

· Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks, University of California, Berkeley

· President Daniel Papp, Kennesaw State University

· President Robert R. Jennings, The Lincoln University

· President Sharon K. Hahs, Northeastern Illinois University

· President Wim Wiewel, Portland State University

· President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, The Rockefeller University

· President Lori Bettison-Varga, Scripps College

# # #

About Project Interchange: Project Interchange, a non-profit educational institute of AJC (American Jewish Committee), develops and conducts educational seminars in Israel for current and emerging United States and international leaders. Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Project Interchange has brought over 6,000 influential figures to Israel from 77 countries, offering them broad exposure and first-hand understanding of the complex issues facing Israel and the region.



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